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This film is worth watching for two reasons. First, it is based on a
tragic, real life event. As such, an enhanced credibility sustains the
film's underlying premise, and thus renders a much greater potential
for viewer impact and depth of meaning, as opposed to a work of
fiction. Second, quite aside from its autobiographical roots, the film
has entertainment value, expressed mostly as snappy, funny dialogue,
delivered competently by an ensemble cast of likable actresses.
Attention to detail in costumes and production design, and adroit film
editing, further amplify the film's overall technical quality.
"Steel Magnolias" is a story about the close knit relationships between six ordinary Southern women, living in a small town in Louisiana. The film has a homespun, unpretentious feel to it, rather like "Fried Green Tomatoes".
The plot alternates between humorous, small, everyday events and good-natured quips, on the one hand ... and on the other hand, the seriousness and heartache attendant to life's unexpected crises. Through the laughs and tears, the six women learn to endure hard times, and thus emerge from their struggles with grace and dignity.
Finding something to criticize here is not easy. I can think of several changes that I would have made, to satisfy my own personal preferences. But the film is solid and substantial, as is. I suppose one could zero in on the acting. A couple of the cast members overact their parts, at some point or another in the film.
Overall, "Steel Magnolias" is technically well made. And the content engages our interest, as a result of its true-to-life theme, its all star cast, and some very clever dialogue.
Another movie that is part of my permanent video collection and never get tired of watching, STEEL MAGNOLIAS is the beautifully expanded version of Robert Harling's play about the relationship between six women who frequent the same beauty parlor. I am pretty sure the first phrase that comes to mind for most people when this film is mentioned is "Chick Flick", but, as a male, I happily admit to loving to watch this movie over and over again, not just because of the six charismatic performances by the actresses, but because this film also has one of the funniest screenplays ever written. Claree: "The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize." Truvy: "Ruth Robeline...now there's a story...her whole life has been an experiment in terror...first her husband was killed in WWII and then her son was killed in Vietnam... I tell you, when it comes to suffering, she's right up there with Elizbeth Taylor." Claree: "well, you always know what I say...if you can't think anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me." Ouiser: "I'm not crazy...I've just been in a bad mood for the last thirty years." And just when you think your sides about to split open from laughing so hard, the film takes a tragic turn and you're reaching for the Kleenex. The scene in the cemetery is riveting, thanks primarily to a flawless and raw performance by Sally Field, who climaxes what is already a beautiful and commanding performance in the film, with her rage against God as her only outlet of grief at the moment. This scene makes me cry every time I watch the movie. An appeal to the gentlemen out there who have never seen this movie: Give it a chance. I did and I have never regretted it.
O.K. The film is labeled a "Chick Flick" and it is, but there is no reason a
guy couldn't enjoy it. I'm a guy and I found it quite enjoyable. With strong
performances by everyone and a wonderfully written script, both hilarious
and heart wrenching. The cast is completely star studded. First Sally Field
plays M'Lynn Eatenton a southern mom with a golden heart. Dolly Parton plays
Truvy Jones owner of the local beauty salon and favorite gossip hang out for
the women of the film. Shirley MacLaine plays Ouiser Boudreaux the woman you
love to hate whom proclaims herself richer than God. Daryl Hannah plays
Annelle Dupuy Desoto the shy girl hired by Truvy because of her wonderful
work on hair. Olympia Dukakis plays Clairee Belcher a wonderful southern
charmer and one of the thorns in Ouiser's side. Julia Roberts plays Shelby
Eatenton Latcherie the central character of the film that is plagued with
medical problems. Tom Skerritt plays Drum Eatenton, husband of M'Lynn
Eatenton. Also there are a couple of smaller parts played by Sam Shepard and
One of the many funny moments in the film occurs when Drum (Skerritt) ask Ouiser for a slice of wedding cake that is shaped like an Armadillo. Drum asks: Ouiser, can we call a truce long enough for me to get a piece of cake? (Ouiser slices him off the tail section) to which Drum replies: Thanks Ouiser, nothing like a good piece of ass!
Sally Feilds performance as the woman letting loose during the cemetery scene seems like Oscar material, but she does not even receive a nomination. Julia Roberts however does receive a nomination but does not win. She does manage to take home a Golden Globe for best actress in a supporting role. As I said before there were some great performances by all the ladies. So "Chick Flick" or not I think many guy's will also enjoy this film.
Every time I see this movie, I want to eat a plateful of jambalaya and smell the sweet aroma of a magnolia. No other movie I've seen quite captures the essense of southern living like Steel Magnolias. This movie has everything, hysterical comedy and satisfying drama. Everyone was great: Sally Field as M'Lynn, a mother who still worries about her very grown up daughter; Julia Roberts as Shelby, a special young woman who feels that having a baby is worth risking everything; Dolly Parton as Truvy, a lonely beautician who brightens like a light bulb when her little shop is full of "hens" : ) ; Olympia Dukkakis as Clairee, the town bigwig who loves to gossip; Daryl Hannah as Annelle, a very religious young woman who drives her friends crazy with her sudden fits of prayer; and of course who can forget Shirley McLaine as Ouiser, the grouchy old wretch who tows her pathetic dog around and mercilessly cusses out the equally obnoxious Drum (Tom Skerrit)??? A very satisfying movie for comedy and drama lovers alike. A totally feel good, yet very real movie.
This wonderful comedy drama romance tells the tale of a close knit
group of six Southern women (of varying ages) in a small Louisiana
town. The film gives us a glimpse into their daily lives over a period
of several years, their laughter, their joy, and their tears, all
through the lens of their enduring friendship.
Here are the six magnolias...
M'Lynne (Sally Field)...perhaps the steeliest of all the magnolias, who has a bittersweet relationship with her grown daughter
Shelby (Julia Roberts)...everyone's favorite girl next door, M'Lynne's endearing, diabetic daughter; we see her planning her very pink wedding (wait till you see the groom's cake!) and charting a difficult path, given her medical history
Truvy (Dolly Parton)...the married but lonely hairdresser with the heart of gold, who owns and operates Trudy's Beauty Parlor, center of social life for these ladies, site of gossip, teasing quips, and comfort
Ouisser (Shirley MacLaine)...the sarcastic spinster and cantankerous comic relief who is frequently seen carting her little dog around and exchanging barbs with her Old Nemesis, M'Lynne's husband, Drum
Clairee (Olympia Dukakis)...the charming, gossiping widow and town bigwig
Annelle (Daryl Hannah)...the shy, awkward new girl in town, who has a mysterious past and lands a job at the beauty parlor, under Truvy's mentoring
Through these six, we see the strength that lies behind the legendary Southern lady's charm (well, maybe Ouisser's not that charming!) and supposed flower fragility, their humor, their optimism, their faith, and above all, their banding together and supporting each other in the face of adversity.
I understand that this movie is based on a well known play by a famous Louisiana playwright. The women depicted in the film are by and large good Christian, church going folk, which is laudable. My initial reaction was to blame Hollywood for mocking Annelle's newfound deep faith and having her act as though she hadn't a clue in her dim witted Southern head. The playwright may have intended to cast her as going overboard and being too judgmental. If so, I personally don't consider this a kind or necessary depiction, and find Annelle to be very sincere and kind hearted.
However, otherwise this is simply a "funny tearjerker" and a great movie.
I have always loved this movie. My mom and I watch it all the time and never get sick of it. It also never fails to make me both laugh and cry. It's amazing how real it is. I cannot relate to the events or the whole southern aspect to it, yet the movie is still easy to connect with. That is not only due to the incredible writing, but the acting is phenomenal. The characters feel so real. I have a hard time picking who I like best because everyone is so incredible in their own way. Even the more minor characters. But like I said, the impeccable writing is impossible to ignore. My mom and I can't seem to stop quoting it to each other. Although, yes, it is a chick flick, it is actually a good one. It's meaningful and powerful. And it's always nice to see a movie about women that does not revolve around them trying to get a man. I can't think of anything that is wrong in this movie. I really can't find a flaw. Every women, adolescents and on, should see this movie. I love it!
Although there are several films that I would rank in the top ten best
of all time, this is probably my favorite, and is a good past time to
watch that never lets me down. As many times as I've seen this film
(and it's a lot), it never fails me; with tears, laughter and excellent
acting and reality. Julia Roberts, as I recall was nominated for her
portrayal as a young woman with diabetes, and in my opinion, should
have won for this and not for "Erin Brockovich". But, the real gem and
overlooked one in the movie is Sally Field. This is by far and away,
her best role and performance she ever snagged, and nailed, and I rank
her performance in this as one of my top five best performances in
motion picture history of all time.
All the characters and performances in this are excellent, including one such, by Daryl Hannah, who I don't care for, but love in this movie. In fact, her character Anell, is the only role I've ever liked her in, and applaud her work in it.
Among the cast there are very few men, but my favorite is Tom Skerrit, who plays Sally Field's husband, and father to Julia Robert. Shirley MaClain, Olympia Dukakis, and Dolly Parton are the other three co-stars, that follow behind the three previous, and all make their characters unique.
The basis of the film, is a beauty parlor, and although it might sound hokey, it's really not. Some might call it a chick flick, but I have to say that I know men have even gotten teary-eyed from this film. It's wonderfully directed, only in that, it makes you feel apart of the never ending friendship that's between this group of women. The experiences that they have and the trials and tribulations they go through. Although not the whole movie is set in the hair salon, a good portion of the film is, but it is done in just the right amount, and is written very well.
I recommend it for girls of all ages, and men who want to impress their girlfriends with a great flick for a Friday night. It is one of the best films of all time, and if for no other reason, you should watch this merely to see the performance Sally Field gives, because it is amazing.
An extremely episodic story of several smalltown southern women whose
social lives revolve around meetings in the local beauty parlor, STEEL
MAGNOLIAS' script and performances are dogged by an aura of
artificiality--but it scarcely matters, for the film is a tremendous
amount of fun.
Some of the performances are more successful than others, with Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Julia Roberts, and Darryl Hannah coming out on top (I am greatly surprised that so many other reviewers dislike Hannah's performance, which seems to me considerably less artificial than many others--but perhaps since I'm actually Southern I have a different perspective). Sally Fields and Dolly Parton are less successful, but not in any sense that actually distracts from the fun. Perhaps most surprising in a film which focuses on women are the brief but impressive performances from the male supporting cast, which includes effective performances by Tom Skerrit, Sam Shepherd, and Dylan McDermott, and which serve to ground the film with a sense of the broader community in which the women live.
The script abounds in zinging one-liners ("If you can't say something nice, come sit by me!") and often hilarious situations (imagine Olympia Dukakis surrounded by naked men in the highschool football team's locker room); it also contains some very touching segments sure to choke up all but the most heartless viewer. And although the story is extremely manipulative and rather predictable, those factors don't actually get in the way of its effectiveness. While probably not a "great film" by any serious standard, it is tremendously good-natured, well-intended, and extremely entertaining, and most people will find that it lingers pleasantly in mind and holds up well under repeated viewings.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
With Julia Roberts the superstar she is today, it's an excellent time to
enjoy the film that contains her best performance, Steel
As the doomed but optimistic daughter of Sally Field and Tom Skerrit, she holds her own in a cast of movie divas, including Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Dolly Parton, and (in her best film work, as well), Darryl Hannah.
The film is basically a warm, upbeat character study of a group of women friends, played out in a beautiful Louisiana bayou town. The story begins with Roberts' wedding, then carries on through the ups and downs of the friends' lives. The men in the story are secondary characters, and occasionally come across as a bit selfish (Roberts' husband), or buffoons (Hannah's boyfriend), yet one of the joys of this movie is that you come to love the women so much, you don't mind the men's shortcomings, and start liking them, too!
The standout performances of the film are from Roberts, and MacLaine, as a spinster with a sarcastic tongue, and, ultimately, a heart of gold. Her scenes with Dukakis are hilarious, yet full of the warmth that makes this film so special!
A couple of things usually overlooked, but worth mentioning; the enchanting film score (I wish the soundtrack would be re-released!), and a bit part by Janine Turner, before 'Northern Exposure' made her a star.
This is a very special film, for both Roberts' fans, and anyone who wants to believe in the healing powers of friendship. Yes, this film can be defined as a 'chick flick', but guys, you'll end up enjoying it, too!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Based on Robert Harling's screenplay from his own play, STEEL MAGNOLIAS
is one of those films that remind us that the average Southern lady is
not a fading flower type like say Blanche Dubois, but more like a
strong willed Scarlet O'Hara. It is an irony that both those seminal
film parts were played by the same actress (Vivienne Leigh) for they
color the image of southern womanhood we have - except that Leigh's
Scarlet is actually totally ruthless: far more so than we are willing
to tolerate. Yet if one recalls, Scarlet witnesses the destruction of
her family and way of life with the Civil War, and her ruthless streak
is strengthened by her experiences. We may not be able to tolerate a
real Scarlet, but a watered down one is possible.
In STEEL MAGNOLIAS the story deals with six southern ladies and the men in their lives. Sally Fields is married to Tom Skerritt. They have two sons and a daughter (Julia Roberts). As the film starts we watch the preparations of the marriage of Roberts to her lover (Dylan McDermott). Among the guests are the local beautician (Dolly Parton) and her husband (Sam Shepard) and her new assistance (Darryl Hannah), and two wealthy townswomen (Olympia Dukakis and Shirley MacLaine), Each of these women are strong types - Parton is very friendly but she is a hard working woman and a support to Shepard (who is worried about his business); Hannah is coming out of a shattered relationship with an undesirable lover; Dukakis is the widow of the town's richest man and mayor - and is fun loving; her closest friend is MacLaine who has had two failed marriages and three kids who she says are ingrates - she is the town's sharpest tongued person. The six intermingle throughout the film, centering most of the action on the deadly problem of Roberts life and marriage - she is a serious diabetic, and should not have children but insists on having a baby because she wants to be a mother.
The film swings well between the comic segments frequently handled by the banter between Dukakis and MacLaine, with the born again religiosity of Hannah (much to the despair of her new boy friend/husband (Kevin J. O'Connor)) as added spice, and Tom Skerritt's occasional collisions with MacLaine also adding to the fun. But there is the growing tragedy of Roberts' health and the effect of it on her mother Fields. All the ladies are strong, and all equally fragile in their ways (particularly where family or their men are involved). It all works well as we see the events unfold over four years. The film is a good example of ensemble acting, and for a change the emphasis is on the female actresses rather than male ones. A nice reminder of how independent and strong those southern ladies really are...bless 'em!
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